Several jurors leaned forward with strained looks and put their hands over their mouths Thursday as prosecutors trucked out a parade of photographs showing what a bullet fired only inches away can do to the human face.
The photos gave a dose of reality back into a death-penalty trial that had so far consisted mostly of documents, diagrams and dialogue directed against Jonathan D. Renfro, 29, who stands accused of shooting Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore on May 5, 2015. Renfro briefly rocked in his chair as the photos of the slain officer were projected onto a screen.
Kootenai County prosecutors called several witnesses who responded to the scene following the shooting, after fellow officers had discovered Moore in an area of the Lake City that had been hit by recent burglaries.
Moore had already radioed dispatch to check on the name of Jonathan Renfro before the contact turned deadly. Some 30 minutes after emergency crews finally got the nonbreathing Moore to Kootenai Medical Center, one of the crew members found Renfro’s driver’s license on the floor of the ambulance.
Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Dave Robins called Coeur d’Alene Fire Capt. Steven Jones, who explained how he got the call in the early morning hours of May 5 that an officer was down.
Jones arrived to find Coeur d’Alene police officers compressing the chest of an officer shot in the face. The victim was laying in a pool of his own blood.
“When we first got to the scene, I was looking at what we were dealing with,” Jones testified. “I asked, ‘Who is it?’ I had to ask who it was because I could not recognize him.”
Moore had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. A video showed crews frantically loading him into an ambulance, a process that took only three minutes after they arrived.
“My primary goal was to establish a working route to deliver oxygen,” Jones said.
The crews could not keep up with the blood coming out of Moore’s nose and mouth, he said. Jones pushed a medical device with a fiber optic camera into Moore to try to find a path to his lungs. “I was unable to see the landmarks I needed,” he said.
Eventually, Jones had to surgically open Moore’s throat to get oxygen into his lungs. The attempt worked, in a fashion.
Those efforts and crews at Kootenai Medical Center were able to restart Moore’s heart, but Dr. William Ganz testified at length that Moore was effectively brain dead from a lack of oxygen. He finally called it at 3:05 p.m., some 13 hours after Moore arrived in the emergency room.
Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. John Howard later testified why medical crews faced such long odds.
The hollow-point bullet that struck Moore hit him in the middle of the mouth, split between his lips, and pierced his tongue before fragmenting into three pieces. One of those pieces lodged in Moore’s nasal cavity, while two others lodged in his vertebrae. One of the fragments severed an artery that feeds blood to the brain.
Moore’s face also had powder burn marks that indicated he was shot at close range. Howard estimated the distance was between 6 and 18 inches.
“Loss of blood from damage” to the artery “and blood inside the nasal passages and mouth would make it very difficult to breathe,” Howard said.
Even though medical technicians restarted Moore’s heart, his brain had gone too long without oxygen to survive, Howard said.
Defense attorney Linda Payne asked Howard if he was aware the gun that shot Moore was fired from a pocket. Howard said he was not.
She asked if his assessment of powder burns would change if he knew the gun was inside clothing, and Howard said that it would change his opinion.
“I can’t quantify without further testing” of the type of clothing and gun, he said.
Prosecutors will return Friday and indicated earlier this week that they could wrap up their evidence by the end of the day or by Monday.
The defense’s case will then depend on how soon medical experts can make it to town. As a result of the scheduling problems, the trial could have gaps of days off before it concludes.
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